The process of joining two pieces of metal together has not significantly changed over the last few decades. The basic idea used is to bring the pieces together and apply enough heat to melt the metal at the interface. The molten metal mixes and after cooling forms a strong joint. This process is called the fusion process. The most significant difference between the many fusion processes is how the heat is generated and applied. The Welding Institute (TWI), in Great Britain, has recently patented an innovative application of mechanical friction. TWI designed a tool and process called Friction Stir Welding (FSW) that uses friction to heat the metal to within a few hundred degrees Fahrenheit of melting, just to the point of being plastic-like. The tool then stirs the plasticized metal together forming a joint that has been shown to be as good or better than an equivalent fusion joint. The FSW process is well suited for the joining of the aluminum alloys used in the aerospace industry. The relatively low melting point of aluminum eliminates the requirements for exotic materials for pin tool design. The FSW process has been successfully used to join alloys such as 7075 which were before considered "unweldable", and aluminum-lithium 2195 which exhibits many problems when fusion welded. The objective this summer was to investigate the design of a FSW system that could take this process from the laboratory to the manufacturing floor. In particular, it was the goal of my NASA colleague to develop a concept for applying the FSW process to the manufacturing of aluminum cryogenic oxygen and hydrogen tanks, of the sort used to make the Shuttle External Tank.